Audi launched its first volume EV this year in the form of the 2019 E-tron SUV, which is already winning plenty of accolades.
Now the automaker is hard at work developing a faster, performance-oriented model that could arrive by the end of the year, meaning we will likely see it as a 2020 model.
Multiple e-tron prototypes were recently spotted at the Nürburgring and on some of the German racetrack's surrounding roads. They may look like standard E-trons but if you peer a little closer you'll notice some changes that hint at these being for a performance offering.
2020 Audi E-tron S spy shots - Image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien
Slightly larger intakes at the flanks of the front fascia are there to feed more cool air to the brakes, which are also larger than on the standard E-tron. In addition, the wheels and tires are wider than on the standard E-tron, as they appear to almost fill the wheelarches on the prototypes. Finally, we also spot a new diffuser design at the rear.
The standard E-tron features a single electric motor at each axle for a maximum 400 horsepower and 490 pound-feet of torque. However, the original concept shown in 2015 to preview the E-tron featured a 3-motor setup with a pair of electric motors at the rear axle. In the concept, peak output was 496 hp and 590 lb-ft. Like the production E-tron, the concept also had a 95-kilowatt-hour battery.
It's possible, the 3-motor setup is what's being tested here. Audi could call the performance-oriented model an E-tron S, which would fall in line with its performance nomenclature used across its lineup.
Audi e-tron quattro concept, 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show
Audi claimed performance estimates of 0-60 mph in under 4.5 seconds and a governed top speed of 130 mph for its concept. The standard E-tron will scoot to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds, which is quick but much slower than the rival Tesla Model X.
The 3-motor setup should also provide a boost to the handling of the e-tron via incredibly versatile torque vectoring.
Audi will also launch an E-tron Sportback later this year, and this model should also receive the performance treatment at some point. And toward the end of 2020, the Audi Sport division will really turn up the heat with the launch of an E-tron GT super sedan. This model will be a twin under the skin with the upcoming Porsche Taycan.